As the academic year 2019/20 kicks off, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has released updated subcontracting rules for Further Education and Training providers. These rules aim to ensure that all parties involved in delivering subcontracted provision are aware of their responsibilities and adhere to ESFA’s funding rules and guidance.
Subcontracting refers to the practice of one Further Education and Training provider (the main provider) entering into a contract with another provider (the subcontractor) to deliver part or all of the training provision. This arrangement is common in the Further Education sector, especially for specialist courses or delivery in specific areas.
Under ESFA rules, subcontracting is permissible, but it must be transparent and in line with the funding agency’s requirements. The updated rules are designed to tighten up the ESFA’s contractor management procedures and ensure that subcontracting arrangements are fair and effective.
One key change to the 2019/20 rules is that subcontractors must be approved by the ESFA and must provide evidence of their quality and compliance. The main provider must work with the subcontractor to ensure that they are aware of their obligations and responsibilities under the funding rules. ESFA will only permit subcontracting arrangements where there is clear evidence of value for money and a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of all parties.
Another important change is that the ESFA will more closely scrutinize subcontracting costs and fees. The main provider must be able to justify any fees charged to the subcontractor, and the funding agency will be monitoring the difference between the fees paid to the main provider and those paid to the subcontractor. The aim is to ensure that the fees charged are reasonable, fair, and proportionate.
The ESFA has also introduced stricter requirements for data sharing and reporting. Subcontractors must provide data to the main provider in a timely and accurate manner, and the main provider is responsible for ensuring that all data submitted to the ESFA is correct and complete.
In summary, the ESFA’s updated subcontracting rules for 2019/20 are designed to promote transparency and accountability in subcontracting arrangements, and to ensure that all parties involved are aware of their responsibilities and obligations. Providers must comply with these rules to continue to receive funding for their training provision, and failure to comply could result in penalties or even the termination of the subcontracting arrangement.